Tally hails his boys after super St Mary's grasp prize
St Mary's College 0-13 - UCD 2-06
St Mary's College, Belfast manager Paddy Tally lavished praise on his players as they claimed their first Sigerson Cup title since 1989 with a single-point victory over holders UCD, at the Connacht GA Centre at Bekan, Mayo.
The win was achieved despite a nightmare start, but once the challengers settled they took the game to the holders who were bidding for their 34th title.
Dublin's Colm Basquel scored two goals in the opening three minutes and UCD held a 2-0 to 0-0. But St Mary's recovered to fashion a 0-9 to 2-1 half-time lead, and they kept possession in the second-half to frustrate their opponents, to a point where Barry O'Sullivan got a black card late in the game.
And Tally, a former member of Mickey Harte's backroom team in Tyrone, was thrilled the way his men battled back for victory.
"They are a credit, the way they played, the way they dug down very deep. A lot of teams would have packed it in with the start we had but they did this in the semi-final as well," said Tally.
Amazingly St Mary's were also two goals behind in the early stages of their semi-final against UCC. But they kept their cool and beat the heavy favourites with a 2-7 to 2-6 win on Friday.
Then, a day later, they returned to Bekan, to upset the odds once more. UCD were going for their 34th Sigerson Cup title, and with Dublin stars Basquel, Michael Fitzsimons, Jack McCaffrey and Paul Mannion they should have cruised to victory after they went six ahead in the third minute.
"We looked at UCD in the first-half, they only scored one point against the breeze. And apart from the two goals they wouldn't have scored," said Tally.
"We knew that we were better than that and we would get at least three or four points in the second-half. We didn't concede anymore goals in the far side. And as the game went on we looked more comfortable."
After leading by two at half-time, St Mary's were still up against it, because UCD had the elements in their favour after the interval. But crucially Cathal McShane scored the first point of the second-half for St Mary's.
Kevin McGeary (twice) and Corey Quinn added further points, and even though UCD reduced the margin to the minimum Tally said his side were ready for any eventually.
"We had prepared for extra-time. And if it had have come to it they were ready to go. With these things you have to plant the seeds long before today."
It was St Mary's second ever victory in the competition, and UCD manager John Divilly praised their endeavour and work-rate after the game.
"No one likes to lose any game, particularly finals. Mary's came with a fantastic game-plan. They deserved their win," said Divilly.
"Mary's are a team that run at you in threes and fours and they are very hard to stop. Our mistakes, probably, cost us. Mary's had to take their points and they kicked three big scores in the second-half.
"They've come the hard way. They've beaten NUIG, DCU, UCC and UCD so it is hats off to them. They've thoroughly deserved it."
St Mary's: Reid; Mooney, McKay, Mallon; Byrne, Mac Iomhar, Meyler (0-1); McCann (0-2), O'Neill (0-4, 0-3f); Corrigan (0-1), McGeary (0-2, 0-1f), McConville; McKernan, Fitzpatrick, McShane (0-2).
Subs: Quinn (0-1) for McConville (45 mins), Hannigan for Mallon (63 mins).
UCD: Honan; Fitzsimons, McDaid, Murchan; Mullally, Coen, McCaffrey; O'Sullivan, Barry; McCarthy (0-2, 0-1f), McDonnell, Wallace (0-1); Mannion (0-1), Basquel (2-1), McGinn (0-1).
Subs: Casey for McDonnell (30 mins), Hayes for Mannion (56 mins), Moran for O'Sullivan (58 mins, black).
Referee: Conor Lane (Cork)